I’ve always loved the fey - I think this dates back to the 1e Monster Manual illustrations, and also to UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave which I have very fond memories of kb98 running for me when we were in Durham, and doing the voices for the annoying leprechauns. I’ve used the fey in various campaigns over the years – there were some great faerie encounters in Atlas’ En Route sourcebooks which I used in my Lands of Intrigue campaign for adventures in Tethyr’s Wealdath, along with montecook’s Pool of Glenmarsis from Book of Eldritch Might III. We also had great fun playing Wrath of the River King in the Black Horse Parsantium campaign, and the Juma Gang have just headed to the Feywild and are “enjoying” some tricky encounters in the corrupted Garden of Graves.
Although I wasn’t sure about 4e’s changes to the long-established D&D cosmology initially, the Feywild was one thing I was definitely excited about – it had always seemed a missed opportunity not to have a proper faerie realm in D&D, complete with Summer and Winter Courts, and previous attempts to make up for this in books like Elves of Evermeet hadn’t really hit the mark. The 4e Manual of the Planes gave us a chapter on the Feywild but I was hoping that Heroes of the Feywild would give me some good DM content as well as the inevitable character options. This is because although it’s a Player’s Option book, unlike Heroes of Shadow there wasn’t going to be an accompanying boxed set covering the plane itself.
Heroes of the Feywild is an 160 page hardback book with strong art throughout, with the little illustrations by Wayne England (reminiscent of the great Tony diTerlizzi) a particular favourite of mine. What I really liked about the book was the increased emphasis on story. I find player’s books often quite dull to read and never made it through most of the “…. Power” splat books but HotF was an exception because of the numerous “Bard’s Tale” sidebars telling fun stories in a fairy tale style. And the powers now have a few lines of description above the stat block too which is very cool – also the case in Heroes of Shadow.
For DMs and players alike, there is a nice chapter at the beginning called Into the Bright which gives a good overview of the Feywild and includes the first proper map I’ve seen. Although these locations are also covered in MotP, the descriptions are new and maybe expanded slightly from that book. The bulk of the book then covers three new races, including the controversial pixie (which I must say looks like it would great fun to play), new subclasses and powers for the barbarian, bard, druid and wizard, character themes, paragon paths and feats. I liked a lot of this stuff – there are some cool new powers for the druid which I look forward to trying out if Daisy the hippy druid ever gets out of Kiris Dahn, and the witch subclass for the wizard looks great fun. It’s nice to have spells like the 5th level Foe to Frog in the full game. Themes such as Fey Beast Tamer and Unseelie Agent were also fun and interesting, although I think there would be some power creep if not everyone in the group has a theme.
Some of the later sections really stood out for me. The Feywild Gear and Magic Items sections are excellent – gray rain cloaks that can be spread on the ground to cause a puddle to appear, false path stones to create a gravel path to your destination, and a hag’s doorknob to turn a wall into a door. Awesome stuff! There are fey magic gifts too – alternative rewards that the archfey and other Feywild inhabitants can bestow on PCs as rewards for fulfilling quests. I should be able to use some of the these items in both Parsantium campaigns in the near future as the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags are also on their way to the (shadow) fey realms. Finally, the book finishes up with a chapter called Build Your Own Story – this is a bit like the lifepath charts in Cyberpunk 2020 and works really well in fleshing out a fey-themed characters background before starting the campaign.
Overall, this is a very good D&D book. There’s been a bit of grumbling that we haven’t had enough 4e books from WotC but if this means we get better books like this one and Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, I’m very happy.